3 out of 5 stars to Be My Killer, a mystery and thriller novel set to release on May 26th, 2017, by Richard Parker. It appears this is Parker’s first novel, and for a debut, he shows a lot of potential. I’m curious to see what else he publishes. On to the review…
Why This Book
NetGalley has become my new go-to for selection of ARCs to read and review. But this time, I happen to see this book on my friend Bentley’s list of Goodreads’ books, and I thought it sounded really interesting. I requested it via NetGalley and was awarded it that day. It was the next book on my list due to be published, which meant I had to squeeze it in this week. Oh, deadlines… Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for the advanced copy in lieu of a fair and honest review.
Overview of Story
A killer is on the loose, propelled by a new Twitter handle called “@BeMyKiller,” in which people can suggest names of who should be killed, as well as a witty response to taunt the killer into choosing them. It was only a fun game one man created, but someone took it to heart and killed 3 people in the exact manner suggested on Twitter. The families of the victims are out for blood, but the man who created the Twitter handle has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Enter Hazel, an indie film producer fresh off a prestigious award, looking for her next big break. She’s pulled together a crew to interview the family of the last victim, Meredith; however, Hazel is the only person who believes the same killer murdered all the victims, and possibly a 4th and a 5th, which the police are still investigating. As she heads to the sacred ground where Meredith was brutally murdered, Hazel interviews all the families, as well as the guy who created the Twitter handle. Things start getting out of control when people threaten to kill him, but along the path, people’s true personalities and hidden agendas begin coming to the surface. Over the course of 4 or 5 days, one by one, each member of the crew or victim’s families begin disappearing. The killer is knocking them off for some mysterious reasons. As the story comes to an end, there are only 4 or 5 people left and they begin to realize the others haven’t just disappeared (no bodies were ever found until the very end). It all comes to an explosive conclusion in the final chapters when the killer is revealed and Hazel takes a stand to save and protect those who still remain.
Approach & Style
The book is told in the past tense via an omniscient third party narrator, watching over each of the characters as they are brutally murdered. The point of view is consistent, but there is some mystery as you don’t always know which character is being tracked by the killer. Pronouns are often used in lieu of him or her, especially when the victim realizes they are about to die and knows who the killer is — the author doesn’t want to give it away, so “they” is quite frequent. It got a little confusing in the beginning, but then you realize you have to go with it, based on how the story is told. It takes place in a small New England town, though the murders happened all over the country, and possibly one in Europe.
I read this on my iPad Kindle reader. Chapters are very short, and even though the book is roughly 300 pages, there is a lot of white space on the screen due to the break in each of the scenes. As a result, it’s much shorter, and only took me about 4 hours to read over the course of 2 days.
1. For a thriller novel, it’s full of suspense and the fear-factor. Given the way the story is told, and the writing style, it has the creep-factor. It almost feels like you are the camera person, following the people and watching the murders happen, but you can’t do anything about it. It’s also very descriptive and creative in the ways each of the characters die. I love me some horror, but this was very intricate. I felt the pain and shook / squirmed a few times, thinking about the vicious torture the attacker inflicted on “their” victims. Just to give you a flavor of the torture, one of the Twitter followers suggested her brother be killed, the brother responded “Sure, take a piece of me.” Well… the killer basically gutted him, chopped him up while he was still alive, into little pieces, and filmed the whole thing for the family to watch. What?????
2. I love when books kill characters one by one, keeping you guessing who is behind it the whole time. This book does well in that capacity. I also am fascinated by the premise of a Twitter stalker who kills people based on suggestions from various followers. It makes for a fun read and makes me a little leary to respond to people I don’t know on social media!
3. The characters are strong and real. I didn’t like many of them, mostly because they are all spineless jerks who hide behind the walls of the internet. The families of the victims also seemed to be using the death of their loved one as a way to help promote their own objectives. The film crew felt dirty and seedy, given what they were doing and how they treated each other, but it also felt a bit realistic in how this would play out — as far as the exploitation part.
Open Questions & Concerns
1. The cops seemed way too easy-going about the whole film production setting up in the murder spot. They were missing throughout most of the book, which felt too convenient just to keep the murders happening one by one.
2. I am not sure I believe the FBI couldn’t track the killer down through technology. I suppose the killer may not have had his/her own Twitter profiles, and looked at victims thru other means… but it felt like no one had a clue what was going on in that investigation.
3. I didn’t care for the ending. It was a surprise, and it made sense; however, it felt like it came a little too far from nowhere. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop there. Key thing to convey is… if you want a truly tidied up, complex and shocking ending, this wasn’t it. It definitely was surprising, but I wanted more in terms of the “why.” It does make up for the disappointment in the reasoning with a fantastic hide and seek scene in an amusement park.
Author & Other Similar Books
Tough one… I think it’s the author’s first book, so not much to say here. I am in no way, shape or form comparing him or the book to Agatha Christie; however, the concept of “one by one they die” was very similar to her novel, And Then There Were None.
I liked the author’s style and the topics in the book. I wasn’t a fan of the pronoun usage and think there could have been a better method to accomplishing the mystery goal. Overall, I’d definitely try another book by the author as it had a good amount of suspense, some horrific gore and kept my attention the entire time.
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